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Kettlebell Training for Full Body Fat Loss!

June 20, 2008 02:38 PM

"What is the best workout for fat loss?"

How many times have I heard that one? I have searched the world over looking for the answer. I owe a huge debt to Alwyn Cosgrove and Craig Ballentyne for all their help in this area, as well as to Pavel and the several of my RKC colleagues.

Well, let me tell you, there ain't a "best workout" for fat loss. There are, however some common traits that show up in highly effective fat-loss programs, and they are:
  1. Strength training, to increase lean tissue, which is metabolically active. That means that it burns calories, even at rest. For fat loss, I typically recommend doing this in alternating supersets or circuit. Why? Because supersets and circuit training require a lot of work with little rest. This means burning a lot of calories in a short period of time.

  2. High Intensity Intervals- A 1994 study by Tremblay indicated that alternating periods of very hard effort with periods of easy effort resulted in NINE times more fat being burned than in steady-state endurance training. The interval group was tested over 15 weeks compared to 20 weeks for the steady state group. So, we can burn nine times the fat in three quarters of the time.

  3. EPOC. This is short for "Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption" and it comes as a result of hard training that creates a metabolic disturbance, elevating the metabolic rate for hours after the exercise session is over. This is related to the resistance training and the intervals. It is a synergistic effect that revs up the metabolism, causing greater calorie burn even at rest.

  4. Calorie deficit: This means training hard, eating less or both. Diet is too complex a subject for this article, but if you want to see your abs, you have to cut out the chili cheese fries.

I have put together three different plans for you, consisting of two workouts for each plan. If you do each one for four weeks, you have a complete 12-week fat loss training plan using only kettlebells and a few bodyweight exercises.

Here is the schedule:

 Sun Mon Tues WedThur Fri Sat
Week One 3 sets OFF Workout A OFF Workout B OFF Workout A OFF
Week Two 3 setsOFF Workout B OFF Workout A OFF Workout A OFF
Week Three 4 sets OFF Workout A OFF Workout B OFF Workout A OFF
Week Four 4 setsOFF Workout B OFF Workout A OFF Workout A OFF

  • Like I covered earlier, this program is based on supersets. For example A1 & A2 are a super set. Do a set of A1, then A2, and then back to A1, etc. until you have completed all the required sets. Then move on to the next pair of exercises.
  • Where it says 3-4 sets, go with 3 for the first 2 weeks and see how you do. We can always go up.
  • Tempo (rep speed) is expressed as a 3-digit number. The first number is the negative or lowering, the second is pause, the third is the "lifting" (concentric in exercise physiology terms) part of the lift. So a squat written as 311 would be a 3 second descent or negative (eccentric in exercise physiology terms) 1 second pause and 1 second coming up. The 1 second concentric is "as fast as possible"
  • A "quick" tempo applies to exercises that can't be done slow, like snatches, or those that are done as fast as possible thru the full range of motion.
  • Rest periods are written as "0" between exercises in a superset. If it says "1:00" that is the length between supersets or beginning the next exercise.

Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps TempoRest
A1 Squat (KB) 3-4 12 311 0
A2 Pushup 3-4 15 311 1:00
B1 KB Row 3-4 12/12 321 0
B2 Clean & Press
(tempo is pressing speed)
3-4 8/8 311 1:00
C1 Windmill 3-4 5/5 421 0
C2 V-up 3-4 10 421 1:00

Interval A: Exercise Time 
Light jog or jumping jacks 3:00  
Kettlebell Swings :30  
Light jog or jumping jacks :90 Repeat for 6 rounds
Cool down
Walking, moderate pace
3-5 minutes  

Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps TempoRest
A1 TGU 3-4 5/5 Quick 0
A2 Pullup 3-4 8 221 1:00
B1 Reverse Lunge (KB) 3-4 12/12 321 0
B2 Snatch 3-4 10/10 Quick 1:00
C1 Slingshot 3-4 20/20 (Each Direction) Quick 0
C2 Pushup 3-4 10 421 1:00

Interval B: Exercise Time 
Warm-up: Light jog or jumping jacks 1:00  
Kettlebell Swings 1:00  
Light jog or jumping jacks 2:00 Repeat for 4 rounds
Cool down
Walking, moderate pace
3-5 minutes  

Time Is On My Side

One way that I use the kettlebells fixed weight to my advantage is to go for time instead of a specific number of reps. If you have three kettlebells of different sizes, you can use each of them on a different day and get a light, medium and heavy workout simply by switching which KB you use on a given day.

I use this approach a lot in my group classes. It allows people of drastically different fitness levels to do the same workout at the same time.

Note: Do as many reps as you can safely complete in the given time. If this means do three, rest a few seconds and do three more until time is up, that is fine. If you can go the whole time without putting down the kettlebell, that is even better.

Timed Workout A
Exercise Sets Time Rest
A1 Clean and press 3 :30 seconds per arm 0
A2 Squat 3 :30 seconds 1:00
B1 Row 3 :30 seconds per arm 0
B2 V-up 3 :30 seconds 1:00
C1 Pushup 3 :30 seconds 0
C2 Plank 3 :30 seconds 1:00

Swing :30, rest 1:30
Repeat swings for a total of 6 rounds

Timed Workout B
Exercise Sets Time/reps Rest
A1 Turkish Get-up 3 2 rep per arm 0
A1 Row 3 :30 seconds per arm 1:00
B1 Pushup 3 :30 seconds per arm 0
B2 Reverse Lunge 3 :30 seconds 1:00
C1 Snatch 3 :30 seconds per arm 0
C2 Bicycle crunch 3 :30 seconds SLOW tempo 1:00

Intervals: Swing 1:00, rest 1:00, Repeat for a total of 5 rounds

Double It Up

If you have same-size pairs of kettlebells, try this:

Double Kettlebell Workout One
Exercise Sets Reps TempoRest
A1 Squat (2KB) 3-4 8 311 0
A2 Renegade Row 3-4 8/8 321 1:00
B2 2 KB Clean & Press
(tempo is pressing speed)
3-4 8 311 0
B2 Hanging Leg raise 3-4 8 221 1:00
C2 Windmill 3-4 5/5 421  

Double KB Burpee & Deadlift :30
Rest 1:30
Repeat 5 rounds

Double Kettlebell Workout Two
Exercise Sets Reps Tempo
A1 2 KB Clean & Press
(tempo is pressing speed)
3-4 8 311
A2 Pullup 3-4 8 321
B2 Reverse Lunge w/KB 3-4 8/8 311
B2 Double KB 1 leg Deadlift 3-4 8/8 221
C2 Plank 3-4 1:00 Hold

Intervals: Double KB swing :30, Rest 1:30, Repeat 5 rounds

Give these routines a shot and let me know how they work for you, either on the Dragon Door forum or you can email me at Also make sure to visit my website